Category: About Writing

Suspending Disbelief

Milan Kundera observed somewhere or other that one of the key things fiction does is ask the reader to suspend their disbelief. Three books I’ve read over the summer push that ask a little too far. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is a cold-war spy thriller set in contemporary times. The idea is that Dominika,… Read more »

Some South East Asian Novels

Four Reigns was first published as a newspaper serial in Thailand in the 1950s. The author, Kukrit Pramoj, was in the first generation of Thais to undergo and overseas education – he went to Queen’s College, Oxford – and I can’t help but think that there’s a lot of his own life in this book. Which makes for an interesting… Read more »

Gandhi, Jinnah and Shashi Tharoor

I have read a slew of books about India and its separation from Britain in the past year. As someone who was brought up in the generation that believed Britain’s empire in India, the Raj, was a force for good, they do not always make comfortable reading. Gandhi’s autobiography, subtitled “The Story of my Experiments… Read more »

Of Elephants and Brightness

One of the good things about airport bookshops in strange places is that they often stock books that I wouldn’t otherwise come across, and my two picks – from Dubai – were both worth the price. The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown by Vaseem Khan is a fun read. Set in Mumbai,… Read more »

Exercise in a Pill

`Exercise pill’ could deliver benefits of fitness in tablet form says a headline in yesterday’s Guardian. It sounds like more of a threat than a promise. In the last few days, I’ve Crewed on a yacht, juggling poles and sails on an under-crewed foredeck (and not done a very good job of it), Been for a short,… Read more »

Twenty Three published

Hong Kong Future Perfect, a collection of twenty stories about the Hong Kong of the future, was launched last night. I’m still reading the others, but here’s how my contribution starts… — Twenty Three Making lasagna is always an adventure, and George likes to give Fan a thrill now and again. And what better way to celebrate the… Read more »

Points of View

Hunters in the Dark by Lawrence Osborne and In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner are both, as it happens, set in Cambodia. And there the similarity ends – but there are plenty of reviews that will explain why. What prompted this post was the points of view from which they were written,… Read more »

Re-Typing

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra is a great book, and deserves all the praise that’s been heaped on it. You can find reviews of it all over the place. What I want to add is a little different. In the author’s notes, Anthony says that he re-typed his book four times to get to the… Read more »